Posts Tagged ‘ballistic missiles’

Iran’s foreign minister warns Europe away from ‘unreliability’ of the U.S. — Russia Plays the “Reliability Card”

December 12, 2017


Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is pictured. | AP


“As the nuclear deal and the Middle East enter uncharted and potentially combustible territory, it is imperative that Europe helps ensure that we don’t soon find ourselves repeating history,” Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote. | Ivan Sekretarev/AP

Iran’s foreign minister blamed the Trump administration in an op-ed published Sunday for “tantrums” on issues related to foreign policy, calling on European nations not to follow the lead of the U.S. when it comes to relations with the Islamic Republic.

“Unfortunately, for the past 11 months, the response to Iran’s good faith has been tantrums from the Trump administration. But the unreliability of the United States — from climate change to Palestine— has become predictable,” Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in The New York Times.

“Our main concern now is cautioning European countries against wavering on issues beyond the scope of the nuclear agreement and following in lock step behind the White House,” he continued. “As the nuclear deal and the Middle East enter uncharted and potentially combustible territory, it is imperative that Europe helps ensure that we don’t soon find ourselves repeating history.”

Earlier this fall, President Donald Trump announced that he would decertify Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the landmark nuclear deal struck during the Obama administration by Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany. Trump stopped short of asking Congress to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, instead urging new legislation that would trigger fresh penalties down the line.

The nuclear deal had been a regular target of Trump’s during last year’s presidential campaign, with the president pledging on the stump that he would pull the U.S. out of the deal entirely. And while he has yet to fully make good on that promise, Trump has thrust doubt onto the deal that his predecessor championed as a foreign policy triumph that would keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Iran remains listed by the U.S. State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism, one of just four nations to be given such a designation. Its officials have often called for the destruction of Israel.

Zarif, in his op-ed, claimed U.S. stubbornness during the administration of former President George W. Bush cost the international community a chance at a nuclear deal. The agreement struck in 2015, he said, “is a rare triumph of diplomacy over confrontation. Undermining that would be a mistake.”

He also defended his nation’s missile program as defensive and its progress predicated on past battles, including the Iran-Iraq war. He claimed the missile program’s advancement has been geared towards accuracy, a capability not required for a nuclear missile.

“Europe should not pander to Washington’s determination to shift focus to yet another unnecessary crisis — whether it be Iran’s defensive missile program or our influence in the Middle East,” he said. “This would repeat the very dynamics that preceded the nuclear deal.”


Russia plays the “reliability” card:



Tillerson set to meet Trudeau for N. Korea crisis talks

December 11, 2017

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, looks at China’s President Xi Jinping walks to his seat during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, Pool) The Associated Press

OTTAWA (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau next week for talks on how to address the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons, an Ottawa source said on Monday.

Canada and the United States are due to co-host a meeting of foreign ministers in Vancouver in January to discuss North Korea.

During a day trip to Ottawa on Dec. 19 Tillerson will also meet Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said the source, who requested anonymity because the meetings have not yet been formally announced.

North Korea has fired missiles over Japan as it pursues nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in defiance of U.N. sanctions. Last week it said U.S. and South Korean military drills meant the outbreak of war was “an established fact”. [nL3N1OA05K]

No one in the offices of Trudeau and Freeland was immediately available for comment. The U.S. embassy in Ottawa declined to comment.

Freeland said last month that the Vancouver talks would show the unity of the international community in applying pressure on Pyongyang. [nL1N1NZ2GW]

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Andrew Hay

Iran foreign minister defends missile program, asks European support

December 11, 2017


BEIRUT (Reuters) – Iran’s foreign minister on Monday defended its ballistic missile program and urged European countries not to be influenced by U.S. President Donald Trump’s confrontational policy towards Tehran.

In an op-ed article in the New York Times, Mohammad Javad Zarif also urged European powers to help preserve the landmark 2015 deal under which Iran curbed its disputed nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of a number of international sanctions.

In October Trump struck a blow against the deal, approved by his predecessor Barack Obama, by refusing to certify that Iran is complying with the terms of the deal despite findings to the contrary by U.N. nuclear inspectors. Trump has also called Iran an “economically depleted rogue state” that exports violence.

“Europe should not pander to Washington’s determination to shift focus to yet another unnecessary crisis – whether it be Iran’s defensive missile program or our influence in the Middle East,” Zarif wrote.

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His remarks seemed to be at least partly aimed at France which has been critical of the Islamic Republic’s missile tests and regional policy, including involvement in Syria’s war, in recent weeks.

Last month French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “very concerned” by the missile program and called for talks about it, an appeal rejected by Iranian officials.

Iran’s missiles are for defensive purposes only, Zarif wrote in the op-ed.

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Iran’s Qadr ballistic missile is launched in the Alborz mountain range in northern Iran. Credit FARS News

“We have honed missiles as an effective means of deterrence. And our conscious decision to focus on precision rather than range has afforded us the capability to strike back with pinpoint accuracy,” he wrote. “Nuclear weapons do not need to be precise. Conventional warheads, however, do.”

While criticizing the missile program, European powers that were party to the nuclear deal – France, Britain and Germany – have reaffirmed their commitment to the nuclear deal and voiced concern at Trump calling it into question.

Zarif also criticized rival Saudi Arabia’s regional policy and military campaign in Yemen but also called for dialogue.

“As Iran and its partners labor to put out fires, the arsonists in our region grow more unhinged. They’re oblivious to the necessity of inclusive engagement,” Zarif wrote.

(Refile with full name of minister, para 2, inserts dropped word “labor” in last para)

Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; editing by Mark Heinrich



Russian military chief criticizes U.S., Japan and South Korea for missile defense drills

December 11, 2017

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Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, arrives for the opening ceremony of the International Army Games 2017 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia, July 29, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov Reuters


TOKYO (Reuters) – Russia’s military chief warned on Monday that military exercises by Japan, the United States and South Korea aimed at countering North Korea only raise hysteria and create more instability in the region.

Russian Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces General Valery Gerasimov, issued his warning in Tokyo as the United States, Japan and South Korea began a two-day exercise to practice tracking missiles amid rising tension over North Korea’s weapons programs.

“Carrying out military training in regions surrounding North Korea will only heighten hysteria and make the situation unstable,” Gerasimov said at the beginning of a meeting with Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera.

This week’s exercise by the United States and its two Asian allies, in which they will share information on tracking ballistic missiles, comes just days after large-scale drills by U.S. and South Korean forces that North Korea said made the outbreak of war “an established fact”.

North Korea says its weapons programs are necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

On Nov. 29, North Korea test-fired its latest ballistic missile, which it said was its most advanced yet, capable of reaching the mainland United States.

China has also repeatedly called for the United States and South Korea to stop their exercises, which North Korea sees as preparation for an invasion.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked in Beijing about the latest U.S., South Korean and Japanese drills, said the situation was in a vicious cycle that if followed to a conclusion would not be in anyone’s interests.

“All relevant parties should do is still to completely, precisely and fully implement the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions toward North Korea, and do more for regional peace and stability and to get all parties back to the negotiating table. Not the opposite, mutual provocation,” Lu said.


Gerasimov’s visit to Japan is the first by a senior Russian military official in seven years and follows the resumption of “two-plus-two” defense and foreign minister talks in March after Russia annexed Crimea.

Relations between Russia and Japan have been hampered for decades over the ownership of four islands north of Japan’s Hokkaido, captured by Soviet forces at the end of World War Two. Japan has declined to sign a formal peace treaty with Russia until the dispute is resolved.

Gerasimov also met Katsutoshi Kawano, the chief of staff of Japan’s Self Defence Forces.

China’s Defence Ministry said on Monday it had begun a planned joint simulated anti-missile drill with Russia in Beijing, which had “important meaning” for both countries in facing the threat from missiles. It said the exercise was not aimed at any third party.

China and Russia both oppose the development of global anti-missile systems, the ministry added in a statement.

China and Russia both oppose the deployment in South Korea of the advanced U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system.

China in particular fears the system’s powerful radar could look deep into its territory, threatening its security.

The United States and South Korea say the system is needed to defend against the threat of North Korean missiles.

It is not clear if this week’s exercise by U.S., South Korean and Japanese forces will involve the THAAD system.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Robert Birsel)

S. Korea to impose new sanctions on Pyongyang: report

December 10, 2017


© KCNA VIS KNS/AFP | Undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visiting Samjiyon County

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea will impose new unilateral sanctions against nuclear-armed Pyongyang, a report said Sunday, in Seoul’s latest effort to pressure the North after a series of weapons tests that have sent regional tensions surging.The move comes after a rare visit to North Korea by a senior UN official, who called for dialogue between Pyongyang and the international community to avert a potentially catastrophic “miscalculation” in the high-stakes nuclear crisis.

Seoul’s new measures, its second set of unilateral sanctions in a month, are likely to draw an angry response from Pyongyang, which views its neighbour as overly-dependent on a hostile Washington.

A total of 20 North Korean organisations, including banks and trading companies, and 12 North Korean individuals — mostly bankers — will be blacklisted as of Monday, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported citing a foreign ministry official.

“The organisations and individuals were involved in supplying money needed to develop weapons of mass destruction or illegal trading of sanctioned items,” the official said, according to Yonhap.

The measures are in addition to those by the UN Security Council, which has hit the isolated and impoverished North with a package of sanctions over its increasingly powerful missile and nuclear tests.

China, Pyongyang’s sole major diplomatic and military ally, has also backed the UN embargoes, but has repeatedly pushed for talks to diffuse tensions.

The UN’s under secretary general Jeffrey Feltman visited the North just a week after Pyongyang said it test-fired a new ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

His trip also coincided with the US and South Korea’s biggest-ever joint air exercise, which the North slammed as a provocation and revealing an intention to “mount a surprise nuclear pre-emptive strike”.

Seoul’s sanctions will bar South Korean individuals and entities from transacting with those on the list but it will be largely symbolic given a lack of inter-Korean economic ties.

Last year, South Korea unilaterally closed operations at the jointly-run Kaesong Industrial Complex, saying cash from the zone was being funnelled to the North’s weapons programme.

The complex was the last remaining form of North-South economic cooperation. Seoul banned nearly all business with the North in 2010 after accusing Pyongyang of sinking one of its warships.

N. Korea condemns ‘dotard’ Trump over Jerusalem — calling it a “reckless, wicked act”

December 9, 2017
© KCNA VIS KNS/AFP | North Korea condemned US President Donald Trump’s decision Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv, calling it a “reckless, wicked act”

 SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea has lambasted US President Donald Trump for recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, renewing its description of him as a “dotard” in a statement released Saturday on state media.

Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un have traded threats of war and personal insults in recent months as tensions remain high over the North’s missile and nuclear threats.

Now the hermit state has joined near-universal condemnation of the US president’s decision on Jerusalem, calling it a “reckless, wicked act”.

“Considering the fact that the mentally deranged dotard openly called for a total destruction of a sovereign state at the UN, this action is not so surprising”, a foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by the state-run KCNA news agency.

“But this move clearly shows to the whole world who is the destroyer of world peace and security, pariah and rogue in the international community”, he said, using epithets usually reserved for the North.

Trump’s declaration Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv sparked anger across the Muslim world, and drew expressions of concern and disapproval from US allies.

Trump has previously warned Pyongyang of “fire and fury”, telling the UN General Assembly that Washington would “totally destroy North Korea” if it had to defend itself or its allies.

Trump dubbed Kim “Rocket Man” in the same speech — Pyongyang has tested missiles apparently capable of reaching much of the US mainland — and days later Kim responded with a personal statement calling him a “dotard”, an obscure term for a weak or senile old man.

According to the latest KCNA statement, the North “strongly condemns” the US move to recognise Jerusalem as capital, and expressed “firm support and solidarity for Palestinians and Arab peoples struggling to win their legitimate rights”.

“The US will be held accountable for all consequences from this reckless, wicked act”, it added.

Iran in slow war with Saudi Arabia in the Middle East — “I don’t believe the Saudis are going to come out winners.”

December 9, 2017

Irab is “winning” the war for dominance in the Middle East a US expert has warned.

Yemen proxy warGETTY

There are fears Iran could dominate the Middle East

The message from Aaron David Miller, a former US Middle East adviser, will spark worry in the West with fears that a powerful Iran will intensify military tensions with the US.

Image result for Aaron David Miller, photos

Aaron David Miller

A proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been fought in Yemen over the past three years which the Saudis are said to be losing.

Mr Miller said: “I don’t believe the Saudis are going to come out winners.”

A number of long-range missile strikes have been launched against Saudi Arabia by Yemeni Houthi rebels against the capital Riyadh and dragging the Saudis into a vicious war.

A total of 87 missile strikes have been launched by the Iran backed Houthi rebels during the war.

Speaking to Newsweek Mr Miller continued: “A sophisticated missile capacity in Yemen is not only going to create a serious security problem for Saudi Arabia.

“It’s also going to make it extremely difficult for much, if any, of the crown prince’s new vision for Saudi Arabia to take place.”

Reforms already taking place in Saudi Arabia include the decision to let women drive and plans to create a new tourist hub similar to Dubai on the coast of the Red Sea.

The most recent attack against the Gulf Kingdom came on November 4 when an Iranian made Qiam-1 missile is said to have exploded near Riyadh airport.

Major General Jafari from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed that Tehran did not authorise the strike or provide the rebels with the military equipment.

He said: “The claim that the missile was delivered to Yemen by Iran is baseless.

“These missiles have been manufactured by the Yemenis and their military industries.”

However, that statement has been rejected by their Middle East rivals, who have argued that the Houthi attacked on the Iranians’ command.

Tension in the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran intensify

In a statement they said: “Iran’s role and its direct command of its Houthi proxy in this matter constitutes a clear act of aggression that targets neighbouring countries, and threatens peace and security in the region and globally.”

Tehran’s aggressive actions have worried the US, who fear that the nation is positioning itself to become a regional superpower.

Local media reported last month that Iran’s newly appointed Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi is planning to fly the Iranian flag in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mr Khanzadi said the naval expedition into far away international waters would spread a message of peace and friendship while demonstrating its power.

He said: “Our fleet of warships will be sent to the Atlantic Ocean in the near future and will visit one of the friendly states in South America and the Gulf of Mexico.”

Yemen warGETTY

Yemen has been sued as a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia

Trump on IranGETTY

Donald Trump has warned the Iran nuclear deal fearing it does not offer enough protection to the US

The US has recently pulled out of a deal aimed at reducing Iran’s nuclear capacity due to fears that the deal does not offer enough protection to America and could put them at risk.

President Trump refused to certify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action originally brokered by his predecessor claiming it “is not a fair deal”.

The UK, US, Russia, France, China, and Germany have all agreed to sign the deal with Iran regardless of whether the move.

Mr Trump has argued that the Iran nuclear agreement is too lenient and called for tougher sanctions to be imposed on the state.

North Korea says war is inevitable as allies continue war game

December 7, 2017

The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea says a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula has become a matter of when, not if, as it continued to lash out at a massive joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea involving hundreds of advanced warplanes.

In comments attributed to an unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesman, North Korea also claimed high-ranked U.S. officials, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, have further confirmed American intent for war with a series of “bellicose remarks.”

Pompeo said Saturday that U.S. intelligence agencies believe North Korean leader Kim Jong Un doesn’t have a good idea about how tenuous his situation is domestically and internationally. The North’s spokesman said Pompeo provoked the country by “impudently criticizing our supreme leadership which is the heart of our people.”

“We do not wish for a war but shall not hide from it, and should the U.S. miscalculate our patience and light the fuse for a nuclear war, we will surely make the U.S. dearly pay the consequences with our mighty nuclear force which we have consistently strengthened,” the spokesman said.

The comments were carried by the official Korean Central News Agency late Wednesday, hours after the United States flew a B-1B supersonic bomber over South Korea as part of a massive combined aerial exercise involving hundreds of warplanes. North Korean propaganda is often filled with extreme claims and threats, and the spokesman’s comments were consistent with the tone of previous statements condemning Washington and Seoul.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the Guam-based bomber simulated land strikes at a military field near South Korea’s eastern coast during a drill with U.S. and South Korean fighter jets.

“Through the drill, the South Korean and U.S. air forces displayed the allies’ strong intent and ability to punish North Korea when threatened by nuclear weapons and missiles,” the South Korean military said in a statement.

B-1Bs flyovers have become an increasingly familiar show of force to North Korea, which after three intercontinental ballistic missile tests has clearly moved closer toward building a nuclear arsenal that could viably target the U.S. mainland.

The five-day drills that began Monday involve more than 200 aircraft, including six U.S. F-22 and 18 F-35 stealth fighters.

North Korea hates such displays of American military might at close range and typically uses strong language to condemn them as invasion rehearsals. It has been particularly sensitive about B-1B bombers, describing them as “nuclear strategic” although the planes were switched to conventional weaponry in the mid-1990s.